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十二生肖中為何老鼠排第一?

本文屬閱讀資料

The Spring Festival is just around the corner, we will ring in the Year of the Rat. It also marks the first year of a new round of the Chinese zodiac, since the rat is the first in the cycle of 12 Chinese zodiac signs.
春節就要到了,我們即將迎來鼠年。它也標志著中國新一輪生肖周期的第一年,因為老鼠是十二生肖中的第一個。
zodiac [?z??di?k]:n.屬相

To those who might not be quite familiar with the zodiac, it is a repeated cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal. The cycle begins with the Year of the Rat, and goes through Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, ending with the Year of the Pig.
一些人還不太熟悉生肖,它是一個重復的十二年循環,每一年都有一個動物代表。生肖周期從鼠年開始,之后是牛、虎、兔、龍、蛇、馬、羊、猴、雞、狗,直到豬年結束。

It is not difficult to notice that the rat is the smallest animal in the group, so how comes it ranks on top of the list? Well, there are several explanations.
不難發現,老鼠是十二生肖中最小的動物,那么它是怎么排在首位的呢?對此有幾種解釋。

One Explanation: Terrestrial Branches
一種解釋:地支

The 12 Chinese zodiac signs are based on the 12 Terrestrial Branches. Ancient Chinese people invented the system based on observations of the orbit of Jupiter, which has a 12-year rotation basis.
中國的十二生肖以十二地支為基礎。中國古人根據對木星軌道的觀測發明了這一系統,木星的公轉周期為12年。

Chinese people named each of the Terrestrial Branches, and use them to mark the year, month, date, as well as different periods of the day. Therefore, Jupiter is also known as the "Year Star" in ancient China.
中國人給每一個地支命名,用它們來標記年、月、日以及一天中的不同時間。因此,木星在中國古代也被稱為“年星”。

The order of the zodiacs was based on their habits and activity time during the day. For example, the rats usually come out around midnight, therefore it is arranged at the beginning of the Terrestrial Branches, referring to the period between 23:00 pm and 1:00 am.
十二生肖的順序是根據動物們一天的習慣和活動時間來確定的。例如,老鼠通常在午夜前后出來活動,因此它被安排在地支的首個,用來指午夜23點到凌晨1點之間的時間。

Likewise, the ox is the second because the animal ruminates after 1:00 am, and the tiger comes next for it is believed to start wondering around preying between 3:00 to 5:00 in the morning. The same order was transplanted to the arrangement of the 12 zodiac signs.
同樣的,牛排在第二位,因為它在凌晨1點之后開始反芻,而老虎排在第三位,因為人們認為老虎在凌晨3點到5點之間開始四處捕食。十二生肖都以此排序。

ruminate[?ru?m?ne?t]:vt. 反芻

Without any records on archives, this is the most believable explanation, since it is more of a summary of the ancient people's observation of nature. Most of the ancient systems used by the Chinese were created in the same way.
在沒有任何記載的情況下,這是最可信的解釋,因為它更像是古人對自然的觀察總結。中國人使用的大多數古代系統同樣按此創造。

Another Explanation: folk stories
另一種解釋:民間故事

Where there is unknown, there are mythology and folk stories. Mystery generates stories and legends.
哪里有未知,哪里就有神話和民間故事。故事和傳說都來源于未解之謎。

Being the smallest of the 12 animals and the one on top of the list, the rat has been faced with various kinds of questions and challenges since the very beginning. There are many stories to explain this.
作為十二生肖中最小的,也是排名第一的動物,老鼠從一開始就面臨著各種各樣的問題和挑戰。有很多故事可以解釋這一點。

In the most widely known version, Huangdi, or the Yellow Emperor, known as a deity and ancestor of the Chinese people, called on all animals to get registered for the 12 zodiac when the country firstly settled and the animals were placed in a "first come, first serve basis." All the animals got up early in the morning and hurried to the destiny except the rat, which found a shortcut by hiding on the ox's back. When the Yellow Emperor starts to give them orders, the rat standing on the head of the ox was named first.
在最廣為人知的版本中,黃帝(中國人的神和祖先)號召所有的動物在國家初建之時登記十二生肖,以“先到先得”為原則。所有的動物都起了大早,匆匆趕往目的地,只有老鼠例外,它找到了一條捷徑,藏在牛背上。當黃帝開始下令時,站在牛頭上的老鼠被命名為十二生肖之首。

In some other versions, the rat was also said to have forgotten to wake up the cat, which therefore lost the qualification to be listed as one of the zodiac signs. Since then, the friendship died and they became enemies.
在其他一些版本中,據說老鼠忘記叫醒貓,因此貓失去了被列入十二生肖的資格。從那以后,它們的友誼就結束了,成了敵人。

Everybody knows that folk stories are fictional, but it doesn't stop them from being told from generation to generation.
每個人都知道民間故事是虛構的,但這并不妨礙這些故事代代相傳。

The image of rat in the Chinese zodiac
十二生肖中的老鼠形象

No matter how the rat made into the Chinese zodiac in the first place, being part of the group has already changed its destiny and expanded the cultural connotations of the little animal.
無論老鼠最初是如何進入十二生肖的,成為這個群體的一員已經改變了它的命運,老鼠的文化內涵得以擴展。

The zodiac sign of the rat represents qualities like intelligent, flexible and vigorous. People born in the Year of the Rat are also believed to be blessed with such qualities. In some Chinese Kung Fu novels, the rat was also personalized in characters with chivalrous spirits.
十二生肖中的老鼠代表著聰明、靈活和活力。出生在鼠年的人也被認為具有這些品質。在一些中國武俠小說中,老鼠也被賦予了俠義精神。
chivalrous[???v?lr?s]:adj. 俠義的

There are also a lot of poems, proverbs, fairy tales themed around the animal, and it has been depicted by artists in traditional Chinese paintings and statues.
中國有很多以老鼠為主題的詩歌、諺語、童話故事,中國傳統繪畫和雕塑中也有描繪。

But their image is not always positive. In Chinese culture, rats could also be considered cunning, greedy, and sneaky.
但老鼠的形象并不總是正面的。在中國文化中,老鼠也被認為是狡猾、貪婪和鬼鬼祟祟的。

英文來源:cgtn

翻譯&編輯:yaning

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